Animal Rights Philosophy Essay

778 Words Apr 20th, 2012 4 Pages
On the issue of animal rights, Carl Cohen takes on the perspective of a reformist. This means that he accepts animal experimentation and meat eating, but believes that these institutions need to be improved upon. Cohen approaches the issue of animal rights using the ideas of obligations and rights, with not only the reformist perspective, but with the speciesist perspective. The conclusion he draws is that animals do not necessarily have rights just because humans have moral obligations to animals. Cohen comes to this conclusion through an analytical series of rights and obligations. His main argument is the following: (1) Humans do have obligations to animals, (this sets him apart from abolitionists) (2) not every obligation arises …show more content…
Regan refers to animals as “moral patients,” and summarizes a moral as something that cannot do right and cannot do wrong. With these ideas of obligations and rights Cohen draws to the conclusion that animals don’t have right just because human have moral obligations to them. Animals don’t have rights because it is a human moral world, and even though we make the commitment freely to treat animals with a sense of respect, thus taking on certain obligations to animals, they still do not have rights over us, or rights at all. Cohen makes the statement in his argument that animals are not a part of the moral community considering how they do not make moral claims and do not have an understand for moral propositions. This is the weakest point of his argument, thus the objection arises that infants do not hold these abilities either, yet they are still considered to have rights and be a part of the moral community. This is problematic for Cohen’s argument, because he could respond by saying it is a human moral world, and the concept of rights is inherently human. That is a massive assumption to draw, which just seems to avoid many objections for the sake that Cohen is a speciesist and his personal beliefs just see animals as inadequate to be rights holders.
Cohen wraps up his final argument by summarizing that animals are in fact valuable and we do have obligations to them, but

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